Work has begun on the first stages of the South Australian government’s plan to build 400 new public houses as advocates say the housing shortage is worsening by the day.
- In South Australia, 17,000 people are on the waiting list for public housing
- The state government has signed contracts to build 44 new homes
- It’s part of a $177 million plan to build 400 new public houses
There are currently 17,000 people on the waiting list for public housing in South Australia, with nearly 4,000 of those in category one, deemed in urgent need of shelter.
The state government has budgeted $177 million on its plan to build 400 new public houses across metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia.
So far, the construction of 44 homes has been given the green light in Kilburn, Woodville Gardens, Parafield Gardens, Salisbury Downs, Elizabeth Park, Elizabeth East, Elizabeth South, Elizabeth Downs and Morphettville.
The state government has confirmed contracts will soon be signed for another 33 homes in metropolitan Adelaide and regional areas, including Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge and Mount Barker.
Out of the 400 new homes, 200 will be built in greater Adelaide, 150 in regional areas and 50 will be built for people experiencing homelessness.
‘It’s getting worse’
Housing Trust Tenants Association assistant secretary Julie Macdonald said the extra houses were a “good start” to address the worsening situation.
“It’s getting worse. We’ve got so many homeless people because they can’t afford to rent privately so there’s more people out there waiting for housing,” she said.
“The people on this list are couch-surfing. They’re living in their cars. They’re on the street. They’re desperate for housing.”
Ms Macdonald said more hostels and supported accommodation was needed and that rent relief was crucial to prevent more people becoming homeless.
“Rent relief needs to rise because people just can’t afford the rents that have gone up so badly,” she said.
“We have got so many people in this state who are vulnerable and homeless and absolutely just torn apart with the way housing costs are rising at the moment.”
Human Services Minister Nat Cook said people in the most-urgent category include those who have fled domestic violence, children, people with disabilities, elderly people and people with complex mental health problems.
“All of those co-existing situations are taken into account when we are assessing who requires the most-urgent attention,” she said.
“Every day my office works in collaboration with community service providers, local advocates, families and the housing authority to ensure that people’s situations are truly and accurately reflected within that category.
“You see people jumping up in categories overnight because of some sort of catastrophe that happens in their life and we have to make sure that we have a service-provision model that is able to be proactive and reactive at the same time and that’s what I believe we’re doing now with the investments.”
Upgrades and maintenance
In addition to building extra public houses, the government is also planning to carry out major upgrades on 350 vacant homes and fix up 3,000 properties so they can be made available.
“We live in a great state, in a First World country, and we can’t have a situation where people are literally homeless. We can afford to do more,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said.
“That’s why we went to the election with a substantial increase in funding for public housing in the state and we’re now rolling it out as quickly as we can because we know the urgency that exists within the community.”
Shadow Minister for Social and Community Housing Michelle Lensink said she had concerns about the government’s proposal.
“While we welcome initiatives to get South Australians into a home, there are huge concerns [that] properties previously allocated for affordable housing have been swiped to help prop-up Labor’s poorly costed public housing policy,” she said.
“Smoke and mirrors aside, this could be a case of Labor cutting off its nose to spite its face and that there aren’t really any additional homes coming online.”
She called for the government to check the costs on the initiative to ensure “all the figures still stack up”.
“We are also worried Labor’s costings don’t take into account huge price hikes in supplies and labour.”